A self-employed contractor was working at height, on a telehandler, with a co-worker, when the machine hit a fence. When moving away, the telehandler basket jerked, throwing both operators over its edge. Unfortunately, one of the contractors had not been clipped onto the telehandler basket: he fell to the ground and died.
Avoid this by…
Conducting a proper risk assessment. The companies responsible for the work should conduct a thorough initial risk assessment.
They should take into consideration all potential risks related to this task, such as:
selecting the correct work platform
if using a telehandler:
how the telehandler travels and how it is set up
potential overloading of the vehicle and its speed
the terrain and general condition of the working ground
wind and weather
any potential collision dangers
the level of training of the workers, and more.
Consulting the manufacturer’s instruction manual and other safety notices. All operators must be familiar with the configuration of the mobile elevating working platform, control functions, manufacturer’s warnings, safety features (such as tilt alarms, limit switch, audio warnings etc) or emergency lowering procedures.
Selecting and specifying the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. A fall protection system needs to be selected before work commences and it should be the result of a job specific risk assessment. When selecting the correct PPE, you also need to take into consideration the manufacturer’s operators’ manual.
All operators need to be trained on how to correctly use the protective equipment.
Using a harness for example can prevent being catapulted out of the basket in the result a collision.
Safety harness/lanyard combinations should only be attached to the anchorage provided by the manufacturer. Never attach a lanyard to any other object or structure outside the platform.
See our range of personal fall protection systems
Making sure that each telehandler operator has had proper training. Telehandler operators need to be trained: for mobile elevating work platforms (MEWP), an operator needs to hold an IPAF PAL (Powered Access Licence) Card. Further evidence of competence and experience is provided by holding and maintaining the IPAF Trained Operator’s Log Book.
Don’t start any work at height without making sure that your staff or the contractors are trained first; you also need to make them aware of any risks that they might encounter. The lack of training and preparation are some of the biggest causes for accidents at height.
Here is an example of how not to use a moving work platform:
All MEWP operators are required to operate vehicles in accordance with guidance and legislation as provided by:
MEWPs manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations
Nine people die every year falling through a fragile roof, and many more are seriously injured, an HSE report shows. Roof lights or skylights can be a tricky area to work around, so make sure you’ve got all your safety measures in place.
This article talks about the Kee Cover range, a solution designed to protect workers from falling through a roof light, while keeping the building illuminated.
Why do these accidents happen in the first place?
Weather and UV damage affect the layers of protection for skylights over time, even when these roof lights had been deemed ‘man safe’ during the manufacturing stage. This means that they can quickly become brittle and unsafe.
Older skylights can discolour to such a degree that they blend in with the metal profiled roof. This means that they are easy to step on, making them commonly prone to the highest risk of fall from height.
Certain roof sections have not been secured properly in the first place, or the sheets and fixings have reached the end of their design performance.
What is Kee Cover?
Kee Cover is a mesh cover that protects workers against falls through fragile roof lights. The mesh panel top sits onto a metal frame made from Kee Klamp fittings and tube.
Kee Cover is suited to metal profile roofs where inline roof level skylights are common.
This skylight cover is fully hot dip galvanised, which makes it corrosion and UV resistant.
Fully tested and compliant
Tested to the Class B criteria and loadings required in the ACR Red Book Test for Non-Fragility of Roof Assemblies
Subjected to a drop test of 1200 joules ensuring compliance to BS EN 1873
For more information on the Sky Light Cover including technical information and more:
Sometimes, due to restricted free fall distances (e.g. low building height, vehicles, racking or machinery in or around the building reducing available height to have the fall arrested safely), a Restraint system would be the only choice.
Typically, a Restraint system is simpler to use than a Fall Arrest system and is therefore more likely to be used.
Compared to a Fall Arrest system, Fall Restraint does not require a rescue plan.
What is a fall arrest system?
Fall Arrest systems protect you after you fall: they stop the fall before you hit the surface.
These systems use a body holding device connected to a reliable anchor; they arrest and restrict a fall preventing you from colliding with the ground or structures, whilst limiting the forces on the body.
When should you use it?
When you are working near a fragile surface, narrow ledge or unusual building or roof shape and are using lanyards or a rope, there is a good chance you might fall off or into the building.
This is when you need a Fall Arrest system, together with personal protective equipment (PPE). You also need additional training and, by law, you are required to have a rescue plan in place. This means that you can be retrieved as soon as possible should you fall.
Compare both systems
How does it protect?
Prevents people from reaching a fall hazard through a tie off system.
Stops a fall that is in progress through a tie off system.
Custom fitted equipment
Custom fitted equipment
Yes, extensive and ongoing
Yes, extensive and ongoing
Must be inspected and cared before and after every use.
Must be inspected and cared before and after every use.
Potential for injury
Lower initial costs but hidden costs might be: training, equipment maintenance, and setup time
Lower initial costs but hidden costs might be: training, equipment maintenance, and setup time
Burden to labourer
Must inspect and properly wear their equipment
Must inspect and properly wear their equipment
EU Directive preference
Better than fall arrest
Only use as a last resort
A harness and lanyard tied off at a set length from a weighted tie off point
A harness and retractable tied off to an anchor point
Do you need additional protection?
According to the ‘Hierarchy of control’, it is better to provide collective fall protection options. Collective fall protection systems include guardrails or skylight protections.
Still not sure which one you need? Get in touch
If you need any advice about choosing the correct system, would like to discuss your working at height requirements or have a safety related question, please get in touch.
Assess the risks of working at height and take the necessary measures to avoid accidents by following these steps:
1. Avoid working at height completely
Where possible, use a plant equipment at ground level rather than a roof, or change the equipment altogether.
Example: Use a 'reach and wash system' to clean windows instead of a ladder.
2. Prevent falls using a safe place to carry out work
If you can’t avoid working at height, then designate a 'safe place' where work can be carried out with minimal risks. Additional protective equipment should not be necessary as preventative measures are already in place in this space.
Example: A balcony or parapet.
3. Prevent falls using collective equipment
Install a permanent system that offers a passive solution for multiple workers, such as a physical barrier. This will allow them to concentrate on the job itself rather than the safety system.
4. Use personal protective equipment (PPE): Fall restraint
Fall restraint systems usually include an anchor point and lanyard which prevent workers from reaching a hazard.
5. Minimise the distance the worker could fall
If a fall cannot be avoided, then use collective equipment, such as airbags, to reduce the impact of the fall.
6. Minimise the impact of a fall
Use netting to soften the impact of the fall.
7. Use PPE: Fall arrest
Fall arrest systems should only be used as a last resort and you will need to undergo training to use these. If a worker falls, fall arrest equipment stops the fall before he hits the surface.
8. Minimise risk by undergoing training
Training should focus on safe working practices, as well as on the correct use of relevant equipment.
This article follows the 8 levels of control that Kee Safety have identified for working at heights.
Assess risks thoroughly and put appropriate safety measures in place
As a business, you are obliged to look after your customers’ and employees’ safety while on your premises. This means that you need to make sure that you’ve put all measures in place to keep them out of hazardous areas, such as roofs. If you fail to do that, you could be held responsible for any accidents resulting from your omission. This means that you could be found vicariously liable for negligence. Read more about vicarious liability.
What you need to do
Have your site surveyed: Ask for specialist help to assess potential hazards and help you choose the correct safety solutions
"Falls from height, and in particular falls involving fragile roofs, are one of the main causes of work-related deaths in Britain.
The risks are therefore well-known and documented, as is the guidance on how to reduce these."
HSE inspector Sandra Tomlinson
In previous blog articles we talked about the need to carry out suitable risk assessments when working at height, especially when regular maintenance tasks are identified. This article talks about 4 companies that should have taken a more thorough risk assessment approach.
Failure to produce any initial risk assessment
In the first case, the employee of a major supermarket was said to be lucky to suffer only minor injuries after falling 9 metres through a fragile skylight, landing in the shopping aisles of the store in Wallasey, Merseyside in June 2014. The worker was part of a team carrying out repairs to the store roof and gutters when the incident occurred.
This resulted in the companies involved being fined a total of £500,000.
HSE (the Health and Safety Executive) found that no risk assessment or method statement had been produced prior to carrying out the work.
Failure to utilise the correct equipment
This second incident shows just how inexcusable not specifying the correct equipment for a recurring task is.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into an incident in May 2015 found that the company had not carried out a suitable risk assessment. The work at height involved closing the zipped flaps on the fabric liners used for containers that were being loaded with malt for export.
A 4-metre long ladder was propped against the rear of the container to gain access to the zip-up flap. The ladder was too long for this purpose and was propped at too shallow an angle, which caused it to slip outwards at the foot. As a result, the agency worker fell with the ladder, sustaining fractures to his right foot, bruising to his chest and head injuries.
The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,257.
Lack of appropriate management supervision
In this third devastating incident, someone paid the ultimate cost, while of course there were also financial implications which could potentially put a company out of business.
Richard Perry, 43, was working with a colleague covering roof lights with blackout vinyl in June 2014 at a company in Bradford. This was in an attempt to block out the sunlight and reduce the heat within the factory. Mr Perry fell 5.5 metres to his death through a fragile roof light to the fabrications department below.
“Two employees were on the roof for some time with no precautions in place to prevent falling through fragile roof material or off the open edge of the roof. This accident would not have happened if these two employees had been appropriately supervised by management.
Lack of planning and adequate safety equipment
This final incident, although not as a result of failings during regular maintenance, is worth mentioning due to the impact of the parties involved.
During a contract to demolish a building, it had originally been planned that plant machinery would be used to remotely bring down the structure. This method would have entailed minimum risk to the workmen tasked with the demolition.
However, between winning the contract and the work actually being carried out, the management decided to instead dismantle the building piece by piece. This meant that workmen had to work at height to remove the roof sheets prior to the structure being unbolted.
Despite one near miss, work resumed but subsequently a worker fell to his death. Two company owners were found guilty: one was jailed for 6 years, fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 court costs; the other was jailed for 8 months, fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 court costs.
Take risk assessment seriously
Simplified Safety are always happy to discuss your safety needs - either over the phone or in person, offering a wide range of different solutions depending on your task.
A tragic event in September this year, where a school teacher slipped, fell and broke her leg and subsequently died from complications while putting up a display in her classroom ahead of the new term, put into focus how easily what could be considered a common, ‘simple’ task can go horribly wrong.
The newspaper coverage did not give enough detail on what happened to comment further on this particular incident, so I will be talking in general terms about working at ‘low heights’.
The Working at Height Regulations changed back in 2005 to ‘Work at height means work in any place where, if there were no precautions in place, a person could fall a distance liable to cause personal injury.’
I think what affected me the most (again without knowing the exact events of the above) is how often have I personally climbed on top of a chair, table or desk to for example to change a light bulb or reach something off a shelf, without really thinking about the suitability of what I’m standing on simply because it was the easiest option. I bet I’m not alone in having done this.
Now I’m not suggesting that every time you want to step off the ground, a meeting of senior management should be arranged and a 300 page risk assessment should be be prepared, but bearing in mind the possible consequences it is worth taking some time out to consider the best course of action before starting that task and if it means delaying it slightly while a suitable piece of equipment or more qualified member of personnel is acquired to carry out the task as safely as possible, then so be it.
Many organisations will already have procedures in place and have that communicated to all staff and if not then they should, but it is obviously difficult to cover every eventuality. Where it is possible to minimise risk is for ‘regular tasks’ i.e. something that is done at least once a year. Then as a result of a risk assessment a suitable piece of equipment can be selected and appropriate training provided or it may be a case of moving something stored ‘out of reach’ to a position where it can be easily accessed without having to climb.
Consider also then areas where staff are required to access, similar requirements may be needed on a roof or on a factory floor, a piece of plant or equipment may need to be accessed that requires someone to climb a short distance to reach it, a permanent work platform may be the most suitable solution so the access is always available and in the case of a roof the access equipment doesn’t need to be taken up each time minimising those associated hazards.
We have recently increased our range of gates, in addition to our popular self-closing gates, to include a DOUBLE SELF CLOSING GATE for openings up to 1800mm wide and a range of four PALLET GATES to protect workers loading mezzanines and loading bays.
KEE GATE Pallet Gates are constructed using standard galvanised tube and KEE KLAMP and one model with lightweight aluminium tube and KEE LITE fittings.
In the event of the pallet safety gate being damaged by a forklift or general use, the individual fittings and sections can be easily replaced without having to replace the whole unit, using standard tools, something that can’t be done with a pallet gate that has been welded and fabricated.
Galvanised steel and aluminium offers a long term corrosion resistance and each model is also available in high visibility powder-coated yellow.
The Gates have been designed to be well balanced for an easy open and close action and incorporate a 150mm ‘toe-board’ mounted on mezzanine edge side to protect workers below.
The adaptability of Kee Klamp & Kee Lite fittings also means our range of pallet gates can be easily integrated into existing handrails or we would be pleased to advise and quote on a complete handrail and pallet gate system, either supply only or to include installation. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your needs further or for us to provide a free site survey
KEE GATE Pallet Gates Options
The KEE GATE Pallet Gates range has been designed to be fully adjustable in width and can accommodate openings up to 1.8m. Our pallet gates are available in four different configurations to suit the type of operation required.
To confirm how simple and quick it is to install the KeeGuard System we’ve created this video to provide an overview.
The video has been designed to act as an introduction for those who have never installed it before, as a general reference for those who require the system installing on their behalf and reminder for people who are already familiar with the system.
The video’s easy to understand guidelines are based on the KeeGuard Instructions for Use and can be used to assist anyone quickly and safely construct a complete free-standing roof guardrail.
In a previous article we’ve discussed the issues around falls through sky lights and rooflights and the importance of protecting them and detailing the options, in this article we are discussing specifying the Kee Cover fragile roof light cover in particular.
Industrial buildings by their design are required to have multiple in-plane roolights, sometimes totalling in the hundreds. If it is uneconomic to protect all, then is it an acceptable solution to protect some? If so, which?
As with any work at height any controls need to be selected as the result of a risk assessment and the identified task to be carried out on the roof needs to be specific. What that means is it often isn’t possible to provide a fall prevention system to try to cover every eventuality often not without incurring excessive cost or in the end creating a fall protection system that isn’t fit for purpose.
If for example you have workers who need to regularly access a piece of plant for maintenance it makes sense to work out a safe path to that equipment, ideally indicated by a designated walkway or identified route. So it makes sense that KEE COVER fragile roof light covers would be protecting roof lights adjacent to the roof access point and along the designated route.
It is quite common to specify a horizontal lifeline system (HLL) for this kind of access, keeping the user in restraint, so being unable to reach a fragile roof light and can be the most economic solution.
It may in fact be better to specify a combination of both a HLL and KEE COVER fragile rooflight covers due to factors such as mis-use, unsuitable connectors, not having the correct space between rooflights or unsuitable roof shape to allow a HLL system alone to be correctly configured in restraint.
The KEE COVER is available in two options- standard or raised, while both have been designed to stop a person falling through a rooflight the raised version has been designed to not damage the rooflight underneath should someone fall onto it, important to think about where machinery (resulting in costly down-time) or staff underneath would be adversely affected if the skylight above was damaged and resulted falling fragments. This consideration and the cost to repair or replace a damaged rooflight in the event of an incident may be a factor in which would be the raised model may be the preferred choice.
As with all of our systems we are pleased to discuss your requirements and offer a free site survey if required.
The use of self-closing gates, commonly in gaps in guardrail systems to allow roof access from a fixed ladder, has seen a marked increase in recent years with the advent of the Working at Height Regulations 2005 where any work at height is required to be planned as a result of a risk assessment.
It is not it is still not uncommon to see chains or draw bars used to allow access to the roof instead, the big downside to these being used is that if the chain or drawbar is not replaced (and often isn’t) an open void is created in the fall protection system and so a significant fall hazard is created at the roof edge.
The solution to this problem is to use a self-closing gate, once the user has passed through the gate; a spring closes the gap, filling the open void once more reducing the risk of human error.
Simplified Safety’s self-closing gate has been designed with ease of installation in mind. It is supplied at a standard 1m width and can be easily cut to the correct width if required. The Tubular bend of the gate is fixed to the assembly using a fitting so is easily removed using a standard Allen key, cut to size and quickly re-assembled, making it an ideal product to modify on site where exact measurements are not known beforehand.
The Gate also features an adjustable spring mechanism meaning that the speed of the gate closure can be set and provides the option of reversing the direction it closes, ideal for example in the instance you suddenly realise that you have installed it the wrong way round. Gates should of course open in the opposite direction to where a fall is likely to occur.
Each gate is supplied with all the fixings needed to connect it securely to standard tubular uprights and has a fixing plate to allow you to fix it to suitable walls or flat surfaces.
The use of self-closing gates is stipulated in BS EN 14122 parts 3 & 4 and the Simplified Safety Gate is designed to meet the dimensional, loading and corrosion requirements of that Standard.
Although typically used at height the gate is also suitable for ground based barrier rails for example in factories or on loading bays.
With working at height regulations becoming ever more stringent, the question is – what products are available that cover all eventualities when it comes to safety risk?
Where working at height is a factor, all too often the correct measures are not taken to ensure round-the-clock safety. Where there is machinery in operation, particularly when above ground level, the need for robust safety apparatus is paramount. ISO standards EN 14122 Part 3 & Part 4 defines the general requirements for safe access to machinery. The standard advises the correct choice of access means where access is not possible directly from ground level or from a floor.
Self-closing safety gates can fulfil this requirement and is ideal for use in any rooftop, high level platform or ground level industrial environment. Self-closing gates can protect any openings providing safe access to restricted areas.
Self-closing gates typically have a spring-loaded mechanism to automatically close behind the user meaning that the speed at which the gate closes can be adjusted, this is a far safer option than the chains or draw bars of old, as these barrier methods mean that once someone has passed through the opening there is no automatic reclose function, leaving the roof or platform in question a high-risk area once again.
Product versatility is a key factor in ensuring site security. When specifying a gate the following should be considered:
Is it designed to be cut to size to suit existing opening? This means a gate can be held in stores for multiple applications around site, minimising response and downtimes
Has an adjustable spring
Has been independently tested
CE marked to EN 1090
Quick and easy to assemble
Can be used for external and internal applications
Galvanised steel for long term corrosion resistance or ‘safety yellow’ option for high visibility
Retro-fits to existing structures, options for wall mounting or fitting to round, angle or square uprights
Complies with test requirements of EN 13374 Class A and with EN 14122 Part 3 & Part 4
Different Gates for different applications
While the self-closing gate has its uses when correctly specified, it may not be suitable for all applications and as with all other workplace activities hazards should be controlled as the result of a risk assessment.
Where pedestrian traffic needs to be controlled around a facility where vehicles and fork trucks operate an electronically controlled barrier may be the more suitable option.
Many companies operate ‘lock off’ procedures only allowing access for approved staff to certain areas e.g. for maintenance staff when repairing or maintaining machinery which can only be accessed once certain procedures such as electrically isolating the machinery has been completed.
On loading bays and mezzanines it is common to use ‘pallet’ or ‘mezzanine’ gates, typically twin gates of a pivoting design, the gate not only separates pedestrians from the forklift loading operation onto the loading area, they also secure the ledges of the loading bays to prevent unsafe fall accidents.
Roof lights present a common hazard for the construction industry, accounting for almost a fifth of all fatal working at height accidents according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Many of these incidents could be prevented by installing an appropriate safety system, so we explore the dangers of working at height to business owners and their staff, and explain how to avoid falls through skylights.
The majority of working at height incidents happen on the roofs of factories, warehouses and farm buildings, where fragile roof lights (also known as skylights) present a dangerous working environment. Not only is this of concern to the workers who are accessing the roofs, but also to the business owners, who can be fined for their failure to provide sufficient safety precautions.
Just last month, two examples of falls through skylights were reported by the HSE. A company was prosecuted and fined £10,000, after an employee fell through a skylight onto a concrete floor, fracturing his right leg and wrist. Later in the month, a company director was fined £3,300 for safety failings after a worker fell three metres through an unprotected skylight. The worker was replacing windows on a large manor house, when he fell through the skylight and broke his wrist when landing. The HSE explained that ‘the work was not adequately planned to take account of the risk of working near to a fragile surface’.
For workers accessing the roof top, identifying roof lights can be challenging, especially on a surface that may otherwise appear robust and safe. Often, roof lights have been painted over, are discoloured or generally not visible due to sunlight making them blend in with the surrounding roof sheets. This makes it incredibly difficult for those accessing the roof to distinguish between a non-fragile and fragile surface.
Another major hazard with roof lights is instability. While a roof light may appear to be in order, its structure may have been severely weakened with age and thus can become extremely brittle over time. Of course, roof lights aren’t designed to sustain the sudden weight of humans, so stepping onto the surface can cause them to crack, or at worst, break completely, leaving the person to fall through to certain harm.
The good news is that accidents occurring due to fragile roof lights can be prevented with careful planning, training, high level supervision and suitable equipment such as our roof light cover (shown below).
When direct access to the roof can’t be avoided, it’s important to take precautions to prevent falls. These could include:
Fitting suitable, secure covers over the roof lights,
Providing suitable guardrails and toe boards or similar around the roof lights,
Installing a safety net, scaffold or similar system, immediately beneath the roof surface,
Fitting strong mesh above or below the roof lights for a permanent protective measure.
Before accessing the roof, always ensure you have a clearly demarked safe route and restrict access to experienced individuals only.
It’s vital to pay attention to safe working practices to prevent accidents occurring. Make sure you refer to the HSE Information sheet – GEIS5 Fragile Roofs - Safe Working Practices, which includes guidelines for working with fragile roof lights.
We offer an ideal solution to this hazard, our Roof Light Cover, this product is available as a low profile or raised solution which minimises the potential for damage in the event there is a fall. Click here for pricing:
This recent project demonstrates that not only can we provide a complete solution to your fall protection problems, our extensive range of fall protection products means we can offer the best option to suit a customer’s requirements.
On one part of the building access is required regularly to the whole of the roof area and the most suitable option was KeeGuard to provide a low risk, collective solution.
On another part of the building due to plant and equipment being in a small area, away from the roof edge and only requiring irregular access, it was assessed that the Weightanka mobile man anchor would be most reasonably practicable option, significantly reducing the initial cost of a full perimeter roof guardrail system.
The other problems they encountered was where an existing bridging ladder at the edge of a roof would require a break in conventional systems, either leaving an open void where someone could fall. Normally this would require them to fix to either the roof or potentially weaken the structure of the bridging structure, it is this scenario where our Kee Guard system really shines, by using Kee Klamp fittings, the system can be designed to “step over” obstacles or in this instance, step under existing structures ensuring that the system strength is not compromised and leaving the system unbroken along the roof edge.
Need to discuss your fall protection problem? Give us a call!